Google’s Plans for Virtual Reality Include Standalone Headset: Report

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Google doesn’t want to leave higher-end virtual reality (VR) experiences to its competitors: The company is working on a standalone VR headset that won’t require consumers to use their phone as a screen, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

However, the headset also wouldn’t require users to be tethered to a PC or game console, which is how VR devices from Facebook-owned Oculus, HTC and Sony operate. Instead, it will reportedly use an integrated processor to render VR games and experiences without the need for any additional hardware.

Equally intriguing: Google’s standalone headset will reportedly use an on-board camera, as well as special technology from VR startup Movidius, for positional tracking. This means that the headset will be able to keep track of a user’s movements to allow for more immersive experiences without the need for the kind of external sensors used by the Oculus Rift and HTC’s Vive headsets.

Google’s VR efforts have until now been remarkably low-end. The company developed its cardboard VR viewer, which combines a user’s phone with a simple cardboard contraption and a set of cheap lenses, in 2014. Google and its partners have since shipped more than 5 million of these viewers, but there has long been speculation that Google may be getting ready for a more fleshed-out VR product.

Earlier this week, the Financial Times reported that Google was getting ready to release a higher-end mobile VR viewer similar to Samsung’s Gear VR headset some time this year. The company still plans to go ahead with this cell-phone-powered VR viewer, and is developing its standalone headset as a separate product, according to the Journal.

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